Herbert Brooks

Herbert Brooks (1937 - 2003)

American

            Herbert Paul Brooks, Jr. (August 5, 1937 – August 11, 2003) was an American ice hockey player and coach. His most notable achievement came in 1980 as head coach of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic hockey team at Lake Placid. At the games, Brooks' US team upset the heavily favored Soviet team in a match that came to be known as the 'Miracle on Ice'.

            Brooks would go on to coach multiple NHL teams, as well as the French hockey team at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and ultimately returned to coach the US men's team to a silver medal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Brooks was killed in a 2003 car accident. At the time of his death, Brooks was the Pittsburgh Penguins' director of player personnel.

            After retiring as a player, he became a coach, notably leading his alma mater, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, to three NCAA championship titles in 1974, 1976, and 1979. Brooks finished his collegiate coaching with a record of 175 wins, 101 losses and 20 ties.

            Soon after Minnesota won their third college championship, he was hired to coach the Olympic team. Hand-picking his team, he named several of his Minnesota players to the team as well as several from their rival, Boston University.

            To compete with the Soviet Union team specifically, Herb Brooks developed a hybrid of American and Canadian style and the faster European style, which emphasized creativity and teamwork, a difficult thing to do with a tough rivalry between the University of Minnesota and Boston University. He also stressed peak conditioning, believing that one of the reasons the Soviet team had dominated international competition was that many of their opponents were exhausted by the third period.

            After his Olympic gold medal win, Brooks moved to Switzerland for a year to coach HC Davos in the National League A. From 1981 to 1985, he coached in the National Hockey League for the New York Rangers, where he became the first American-born coach in Rangers' team history to win 100 games.

            After a brief stop at then-NCAA Division III St. Cloud State University, he returned to the NHL to coach the Minnesota North Stars (from 1987 to 1988), New Jersey Devils (1992–93), and Pittsburgh Penguins (1999–2000). He was a long-time scout for the Penguins from the mid-1990s, and held the role of Director of Player Personnel from 2002 to the day of his death.

            His hiring by the North Stars in 1987 would be the last time a college coach was selected to coach an NHL team until North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol was tapped to coach the Philadelphia Flyers in May 2015.

            Brooks also coached two more Olympic team squads: Team France at the 1998 in Nagano, and the U.S. hockey team again at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The 2002 team defeated the Russians in the semi-finals en route to a silver, losing in the gold medal game to Canada. The U.S. win over Russia came exactly 22 years to the day after the famous 'Miracle on Ice' game.

            Brooks was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990, the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Hockey Hall of Fame (posthumously) in 2006.

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